16 May 2019

Diving with Dolphins: Weather Malfunction

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We started Tuesday with breakfast (Bimini breeeeaaaaddd….yuuuuuuuuummmmmmm) and then we headed to The Dolphin House. We met Ashley Saunders, the builder/artist who created The Dolphin House. He is a local historian, poet, musician – the Swiss Army knife of Bimini. It was really cool to see how he takes forgotten scraps and turns it into the house. Sam was amazed at how he can look at what others would consider trash and turn into a building. He told us about his labor love, and his positive energy was contagious. There were over 40 different mosaic dolphins throughout the property and his collection of license plates and coins from around the world showed his love of the world and the world’s love of his project. He spoke of his first experience with the wild dolphins of Bimini and how they awoke his spirit and inspired him to create something that would give back to the dolphins and inspire others. Learning how long his family has been on Bimini (200 years!) was amazing and LiEllen felt he has a really beautiful soul, the kind of person you’d want to sit with and hear stories.

After The Dolphin House tour, we wrote yesterday’s blog post and had a chance to try local conch salad (thank you, Nishka!). Mark says, “It was slammin.’” And the two Sarahs really appreciated the spicy “sour” that came alongside the salad. We had a nice break and some of us went to the straw market and others to the beach.

After lunch, we got the news that the weather was too iffy to head in search of dolphins. So, we switched gears and had a bonus lecture. Kel told us about The Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network. We loved hearing about Harold the manatee and we’ll be on the lookout for #104 (Lamda). We were surprised to learn about how the tagging process works and it was cool how the different islands work together and communicate to meet the need of stranding response. After class, it was time to get outside – for our beach clean-up!

The beach clean-up was rewarding, but also a little depressing to see how much litter is scattered on the beach, especially the straws and cigarette butts. And, the fact that Kel & Nicole did a beach clean-up with the last student group, less than two weeks ago. After the beach clean-up, some of us headed into the sea to cool off! Others carried scraps of tiles and old shells to Mr. Ashley at the Dolphin House. He seemed genuinely grateful that we thought of him.

After dinner, we watched “Dolphins,” the film that first brought DCP’s Director to Bimini in 1997. It was very informative for an older film (2000). And though it was anthropomorphic at times, we do understand the benefits of inspiring the general public through films like this. And, we had some chuckles thinking about the narrator (Pierce Brosnan!) and the music (Sting!). Hearing some of the scientific methods (ex, comparing dolphin vocalizations in clear versus murky water) was very interesting.

Wishing for good weather tomorrow,

Roll Kerns (EKU 2019)

Kelly Melillo Sweeting

Kel is DCP's Bimini Research Manager, and all around awesome scientist.

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